Background: Palliative chemotherapy with cisplatin/5-fluorouracil (5FU) is the commonest regimen employedfor metastatic and recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (SCCHN) and nasopharyngeal carcinoma(NPC). However, this regimen is cumbersome requiring 5 days of admission to hospital. Carboplatin/5FU maybe an alternative regimen without compromising survival and response rates. This study aimed to comparethe efficacy and toxicity of carboplatin/5FU regimen with the cisplatin/5FU regimen. Materials and
Methods:This retrospective study looked at patients who had palliative chemotherapy with either cisplatin/5FU orcarboplatin/5FU for metastatic and recurrent SCCHN and NPC. It included patients who were treated atUKMMC from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009 with either palliative IV cispaltin 75 mg/m2 D1 only plusIV 5FU 750 mg/m2 D1-5 infusion or IV Carboplatin AUC 5 D1 only plus IV 5FU 500 mg/m2 D1-2 infusion plus IV5FU 500 mg/m2 D1-2 bolus. The specific objectives were to determine the efficacy of palliative chemotherapy interms of overall response rate (ORR), median progression free survival (PFS) and median overall survival (OS)and to evaluate the toxicities of both regimens.
Results: A total of 41 patients were eligible for this study. Therewere 17 in the cisplatin/5FU arm and 24 in the carboplatin/5FU arm. The ORR was 17.7 % for cisplatin/5FUarm and 37.5 % for carboplatin/5FU arm (p-value=0.304). The median PFS was 7 months for cisplatin/5FU and9 months for carboplatin/5FU (p-value=1.015). The median OS was 10 months for cisplatin/5FU arm and 12months for carboplatin/5FU arm (p-value=0.110). There were 6 treatment-related deaths (6/41=14.6%), four inthe carboplatin/5FU arm (4/24=16.7%) and 2 in the cisplatin/5FU arm (2/17=11.8%). Grade 3 and 4 hematologictoxicity was also more common with carboplatin/5FU group, this difference being predominantly due to grade3-4 granulocytopenia (41.6% vs. 0), grade 3-4 anemia (37.5% vs. 0) and grade 3-4 thrombocytopenia (16.6%vs. 0).
Conclusions: Carboplatin/5FU is not inferior to cisplatin/5FU with regard to its efficacy. However, therewas a high rate of treatment-related deaths with both regimens. A better alternative needs to be considered.